According to a survey by CareMore Health, 70% of senior patients need better healthcare coordination. Other research shows that 35 percent of those over age 65 have no one assisting them with coordinating their care, and 34 percent say a family member is helping them. The American health care system has become incredibly fragmented and complex and often involves managing multiple specialists, medications, and physician appointments. That’s why professional care coordination can be so beneficial. FirstLantic Healthcare examines how this service can be a lifesaver for seniors and their families.

Why is proactive care management so important?

With many older Americans having at least two chronic conditions, the lack of a holistic approach to their medical care can lead to catastrophic results. Today, over 40% of adults age 65 and older take five or more prescription medications regularly, triple the rate two decades ago. As many as 9 million older people are on ten or more meds, and it’s not unusual for patients to take as many as 20 to 25 different medications daily. The result is increased rates of hospitalization for adverse drug events. In 2018, more than 280,000 people over age 65 were hospitalized for an adverse drug event, and another 5 million sought care at a doctor’s office or emergency department.

Over the past 30 years, specialization in U.S. medicine has increased significantly, encouraged by higher pay for specialty providers, especially surgeons. Specialization has benefits but drawbacks as well. Since patients no longer see one dominant provider for their healthcare needs, the system is more inefficient, with patients paying for a higher volume of visits and experiencing a higher likelihood of miscommunication between providers. Elderly individuals who are severely ill and cannot act as their own advocate or don’t have a friend or family member to coordinate their care can experience an increased risk of mismanaged care.

What is involved in healthcare coordination?

Care coordination involves organizing patient care activities and sharing information with the patient, family members, and medical professionals to achieve safer and more effective care. Proactive coordination and communication are essential to delivering information at the right time to the right people, whether pharmacists, nurses, doctors, case workers, or family members. Care coordination is critical for ensuring patient safety because it keeps multiple providers in the loop regarding certain medications and can reduce duplicative tests and treatments. However, only 43 percent of seniors said their providers ask about treatments from other practitioners.

What are the benefits of managed care?

  • Better healthcare outcomes. Studies have shown that professional care coordination results in better health outcomes. Patients are often more satisfied with the quality of care because it is personalized and streamlined.
  • Taking care of mind and body. Isolation is a significant problem for many seniors. Care management focuses on the patient’s physical, social, and emotional health, connects the patient to resources such as counseling and support groups, and promotes mind and body wellness.
  • All healthcare professionals stay informed. Complex medical conditions usually mean having more than one doctor who provides care. When all healthcare professionals are on the same page regarding changes in medication or medical history and new or worsening symptoms, duplicative testing, screening, and treatment are avoided. Patients are also less likely to experience multiple medications’ adverse side effects.
  • Caregiver relief. For many family members, taking care of a loved one’s medical coordination can be a full-time job, leaving little time to take care of their personal needs. Manage care can provide a much-needed break for family caregivers to concentrate on work, other family members, and their own emotional well-being.
  • Additional services. Care managers can also help with other services, such as coordinating with insurance providers and assisting with finances and budget preparation.

If you or a loved one needs home healthcare or care coordination services, FirstLantic can help. FirstLantic is committed to providing our patients the highest quality home care and has serviced clients in Broward and Palm Beach Counties since 2000. Click here to contact us.